What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Why It's So Hard Just to Pay Attention

March 10, 2013, 2:05 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Far from receiving information about the world as it is, our biologyand psychologyfilter what we perceive to be reality to a very high degree. Studies conducted on how people literally see the world suggest that "our brains are bombarded by something like eleven million pieces of data at any given time, and of that, we are able to consciously process only about forty." This is due to physical restrictions on the eyeball and the brain. Of the ten billion bits per second that the retina takes in, only about ten thousand make it to the visual cortex. What's more, only ten percent of the brain's synapses are dedicated to incoming visual information. 

What's the Big Idea?

Our ability to observe the world is just that: An ability. Without conscious effort, the details of everyday life fly by us unappreciated. It's for this reason that science draws a thick boundary between seeing and observing, the latter meaning that we consciously give our attention to a specific object or idea. "What we need to learn instead is how to tell our brains what and how to filter, instead of letting them be lazy and decide for us, based on what they think would make for the path of least resistance." The problem lies in a lack of mindfulness and a willingness to be still and present before whatever you are about to do. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at BBC Future


Why It's So Hard Just to Pa...

Newsletter: Share: